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Habitations of the Word: Essays

4.48  ·  Rating Details ·  54 Ratings  ·  6 Reviews
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism, 1985 Now a Cornell Paperback--

"These twelve essays take risks, make connections, give off sparks and illustrate Gass's love of language. Using Freudian concepts, he compares the art of writing to the art of becoming civilized: writing parallels the transformation of raw instinct into shared expression. . . . G

Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 1st 1986 by Touchstone Books (first published 1985)
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MJ Nicholls
Jan 08, 2015 MJ Nicholls rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, merkins
The final selection of Gass’s essays I had left to complete was as riveting and astronomic as its priors, including his sceptical take on ‘The Death of the Author’, the huge mental peregrination ‘Emerson and the Essay’, a fascinating take on a familiar postmodern problem in ‘Representation and the War for Reality’, his usual deep readings and philosophical exegeses of texts (inc. Stein and James) ‘The Soul Inside the Sentence’ and ‘Tropes of the Text’, his fantastic piece on the list form and th ...more
Roy Kesey
Jun 18, 2013 Roy Kesey rated it it was amazing
Magnificent book of essays on writing and thought, among many other things. Back in May of 2010, Big Other asked me to write a sentence about a sentence, and I chose one from the essay “Culture, Self and Style,” and here it is .

First the Gass sentence:

A sentence is a length of awareness.

Then mine:

The best word in this sentence is “length” but not for the reason you're thinking of, not for that reason at all and jesus god I can't believe I even hang out with you, how that's all you can ever think
Feb 01, 2008 Beverly rated it it was amazing
Haven't finished it. But I know it will be good just from what I've read so far. Check out his essay on the word "and". I like his non-fiction better than his fiction. I'm having trouble getting through The Tunnel, just because the style is intense and it gets old after awhile. I heard that this same style, he uses in some short stories and I bet I would like those better.

So someone insisted with raised voice and arms "YOU HAVE TO READ HIS NON-FICTION WORK!!" and so I stumbled onto this and the
Conor Robin Madigan
Aug 30, 2015 Conor Robin Madigan rated it it was amazing
Better than even the best.
May 11, 2012 Ke rated it it was amazing
Shelves: did-not-complete
His essays are beautiful, and so are the author's love letters to language.
Beautiful essays about language by a man in love with language.
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William Howard Gass (born July 30, 1924) is an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, critic, and former philosophy professor.

Gass was born in Fargo, North Dakota. Soon after his birth, his family moved to Warren, Ohio, where he attended local schools. He has described his childhood as an unhappy one, with an abusive, racist father and a passive, alcoholic mother; critics would later cit
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“Yet nature turns a dumb face toward us like a cow. When we read its wonders, we wonder whether we haven't written them ourselves. We are in ferment, but our greatness grows like a bubble of froth. We sense that existence itself lacks substance; that it is serious in the wrong sense; that its heaviness is that of wet air. The sublime. . . ah, the sublime is far off, though we call for its coming. Yes. Life falls short--it is never what it should be. Rhymes will not rescue it. Days end, and begin again, automatically. Only the clock connects them. Sullen sunshine is followed by pitiless frost, and the consequence is we are a tick or two nearer oblivion, and the alarm for our unwaking.” 0 likes
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